Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Landlord portrayed as defiant

Finances not disclosed in discrimination case

September 7, 2005


It hasn't yet been decided how much a Lawrence landlord must pay in damages after refusing to rent to an interracial couple in 2002.

A major reason for that, an attorney for the couple said Tuesday, is that the landlord is refusing to answer questions about his finances.

In May, a jury found that Rex Youngquist, owner of Villa 26 Townhomes, 2109 W. 26th St., committed illegal housing discrimination when his complex manager refused to rent to the couple. The jury also found he should pay punitive damages.

Since then, attorneys representing the couple have been seeking financial information from Youngquist, co-owner Gail Youngquist and manager Lynne Sander. But in a hearing Tuesday, attorney Bruce Plenk accused Rex Youngquist of having a "defiant and unresponsive attitude."

As an example, Plenk said, Youngquist had given written response to one query saying he didn't know details of how much income his properties generated or where the money went.

"He basically said to the plaintiffs and the court, 'Get lost,'" said Plenk, who is representing the city's Human Relations and Human Resources department on behalf of the couple, Wayne Jackson and Adrianne Morales.

The Youngquists did not attend Tuesday's hearing. Sander, who is Youngquist's daughter, testified her father had been out of town all summer.

She testified he had properties in Texas, Panama and Peru in addition to the property in Lawrence.

Youngquist's attorney, Chris Miller, said his client was making a good-faith effort to comply and was willing to furnish the information.

But Judge Stephen Six said "it doesn't seem convincing" that Youngquist doesn't know the details of his finances.

Six continued the case until this afternoon and ordered Rex and Gail Youngquist to appear.

In addition to punitive damages, the city wants the judge to order repayment of $58,001.25 in attorneys' fees plus $3,120.60 in expenses, paid to attorneys Plenk and Max Kautsch.

Sander testified at trial that she never discriminated against Jackson, who is black, and Morales, who is Hispanic. She said she turned them down because she'd recently had a religious epiphany in which the Lord told her not to rent to unmarried couples.

Plenk, however, argued that Sander was "making things up as she went along" and had allowed other unmarried couples to remain at the complex.


Cait McKnelly 12 years, 9 months ago

Thank god this isn't Arkansas. They have NO landlord-tenant laws and landlords in that state discriminate at will. I rented an apartment in Alma, AR. I was a single woman with two small children at the time. It actually stipulated in my lease that, as a single woman, I couldn't have overnight male visitors in my apartment. No such stipulation was made in the leases of male tenants. The apt manager watched the tenants like a hawk and she can and did evict tenants at will. All lease applicants were also (illegaly) ran through NCIC without their knowledge or permission. The property was owned by a group of attorneys out of Little Rock and the apartment manager made it very clear who owned the complex.

cowboy 12 years, 9 months ago

Chalk up this one to stupid is as stupid does. The landlord is obviously whacked but jeez is the attorney the real shark in the bucket , 60,000 dollars in legal costs. That should be criminal !

Richard Heckler 12 years, 9 months ago

The Lord dictates discrimination as well as murder instead of divorce? By golly these property owners are on to something...about the same thing Marty Miller was on to???

This is insane what people are bringing to the court room.

pylon25 12 years, 9 months ago

$60,000 in legal costs should be criminal? Are you kidding? What, should they do it for free? I wonder how much time it has taken them, their staff, how much time it has taken away from their other clients, or ability to take on new clients and therefore new income. How would you like to work for a significant period of time and not get paid? I'm sure for the time spent, $60,000 is the going rate. Lets just criminalize everyone making a living, sounds like a good idea. Maybe the landlord wouldnt have to pay the $60k in fees if he wasnt guilty.

craigers 12 years, 9 months ago

I stand by the statement of Lynn and if she feels that she was doing wrong in the past and wanted to change her policy, then that is fine and not rent to unmarried couples. It just happened that this was and interracial couple and that just adds to the screaming of bigotry. And Merrill the two cases you mentioned are not even closely related, but it does seem that if you can take a jab at Christians, then you will. Mr. Miller was completely whacked out and the two situations are completely different. I hope this landlord takes it to the appeals and wins. At that point I am sure that the attorney will have worked for a couple of months worth and would have an attorney fee of 150K. I wish I could make 60K in the span of a couple months.

Dani Davey 12 years, 9 months ago

Lets be fair to the attorney here. The story says this happened in 2002. Assuming that they retained counsel pretty soon after the incident and it wasn't even decided by a jury until last May (2005) that's three years worth of paper work and probably trying to work out a settlement and then trial. I'd say 60k isn't bad for 3 years.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 9 months ago

I used to live at Villa 26. Even though the owner lived on site and the complex was run by family members (also on site) you could NEVER get ANYTHING done or even get a return phone call. It was like renting from an absentee landlord. But, you knew that someone was around because someone would always cash your rent check! It was a poorly run property and very unprofessional on many levels.

Another thing to consider. I work in the lending industry. I can tell you from experience that when two unmarried persons enter into a financial agreement (such as an apartment lease), chances are that the agreement will be violated as soon as the unmarried people break up. People sign 30 year mortgages and sign 5 year car notes with someone they are dating in spite of the fact that they've never had a relationship last more than 18 months. Entering into financial agreements with people you are romantically invovled with is DUMB. REALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA. I think that if I were renting out a house, I'd probably require that everyone on the lease be married or otherwise related just for the purpose of mitigating credit risk.

But, those Villa 26 people are just odd. When the man says he doesn't know where his money is... I actually believe him. I always was under the impression that the old guy was completely clueless about how his property was being run.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 9 months ago

There is a lesson to be learned here: be consistent in all your business dealings. If the attorney had not been able to identify the inconsistencies and if the V26 owners could have put forward a coherent argument, they would have survived. But, since the property is so poorly run, and they don't actually have written policies in place and a paper trail demonstrating that they follow a consistent approach, they are wide open to lawsuits.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 9 months ago

I lived there for 2 years. It was the only place that had one-bedroom apartments with built-in washers and dryers in each apartment. And, it was cheap.

We chose to live there, and we chose to move. We moved a block away after we realized that things would never change.

Lowell Holmes 12 years, 9 months ago

offtotheright, the jury didnt find them guilty of not renting because they were not married which is legal, they were found guilty of discriminating based on race which is NOT legal. It would be interesting to know however if they have rented to any other unmarried couples since this began or if her little bout of religion was just a convienient excuse.

lunacydetector 12 years, 9 months ago

attorneys have an unwritten understanding if they can drag something out as long as possible - because both parties have large resources - then they are to drag it out and make as much money as possible.

daddax98 12 years, 9 months ago

On multiple occasions in the past they rented to unmarried couples, she testified that she did not want to get rid of those couples, then they refuse to rent to an interracial couple. Finally a white couple is allowed to rent after the interracial couple is turned down. Give me a break!!! Those are the facts. Landlords do have wide discrestion in picking and choosing who they rent to, from credit ratings to pet ownership to height and weight, however when all oter factors are equal and you refuse to rent to someone based on race you have broken the law.

sandersen 12 years, 9 months ago

How pathetic, we have truly become a culture stripped of the concept of humanity, and a shared sense of the greater good for our unity as fellow human beings is eclipsed by those who claim the title of "moral", "righteous" or "pious". They repeatedly gloat of their cause, yet pass eagerly by the truly meaningfuland unifying passages (hence, "do unto others...") in favor of those passages which allow them a faux moralistic highground. It is unfortunate that often, to the regret and horror of those who are truly spiritual and deeply care for all their fellow man ( regardless of their religion, race, gender, etc.), those who loudly purport their state of religious incorporation participate in an ugly "sorting" process, as if they are in a factory whose business it is to approve or reject the quality of fellow humans based upon a narrow version of what they deem "moral".

Hence, we all watch as the victims are inverted to the aggressor status, and the bigotted and villainous are crowned with an unearned martyrdom.

Terry Bush 12 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Quinn for pointing out FACTS. This manager said (in her defense) that she'd changed her mind about renting to unmarried couples. BUT there were plenty of unmarried couples living there, to whom she had recently rented. So, the court found (acting in its role as fact finder) that her real (but not admitted to) reason for refusing to rent the place was because of the mixed RACE. That being found to be the facts, the legal issue becomes what to do in order to punish such racially motivated decisions.

She got into legal hot water because she was found (by the court) to be basing her rental decisions upon race. That is currently not legal. If you think that is ok, then your issue is with the laws that prohibit discrimination based upon race (starting with the 1964 Civil Rights law passed in the LBJ era).

It was not about religious freedom or principles. It was about being a racist.

The bulk of the $ being assessed is to pay for fees and costs associated with such a case. The couple themselves will probably not see/get much in the way of compensation. The only time that a plaintiff makes big bucks is usually if/when the government is the entity guilty of the racial discrimination!

madmomma 12 years, 9 months ago

in response to offtotheright: regarding your comment on the discrimination suit: first of all, please get the facts straight before you give an opinion. The woman was not pregnant 3 years ago when the suit was first filed. Until you have walked in their shoes, you will never understand what it feels like to be discriminated against.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 9 months ago

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